With a heavy heart, we are deeply sadden to hear the news that Mr. Norman Lee Vance a Pearl Harbor survivor from Rushville, Indiana has passed away at the age of 95.
Norman Lee Vance was born in New Castle in 1921. He attended New Castle High School, and he was the first freshman in school history to letter in varsity track.
Vance enlisted in the US Navy in 1940 after graduating high school. He was on the USS Pennsylvania BB38 at Pearl Harbor when WWII started, and he survived the attack.
At the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Pennsylvania was in dry-dock in the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. She was one of the first ships in the harbor to open fire as Japanese dive and torpedo bombers roared out of the high overcast. They did not succeed in repeated attempts to torpedo the caisson of the dry-dock, but Pennsylvania and the surrounding dock areas were severely strafed. The crew of one 5 inch (130 mm) gun mount was wiped out when a bomb struck the starboard side of her boat deck and exploded inside Casemate 9. Destroyers Cassin and Downes, just forward of Pennsylvania in the dry-dock, were seriously damaged by bomb hits. Pennsylvania was pockmarked by flying fragments. A part of a torpedo tube from Downes, about 1,000 lb (450 kg) in weight, was blown onto the forecastle of Pennsylvania. She had 15 men killed (including her executive officer), 14 missing, and 38 wounded.
On 20 December, Pennsylvania sailed for San Francisco, arriving on 29 December. She underwent repairs until 30 March 1942.
He was awarded many WWII ribbons and 11 battle stars.
After he was discharged, he moved to Rush County. He married Mary Henshaw on May 4, 1944. They had been married 51 years when she passed away on March 13, 1996.
Vance was well-known around Rush County as a manager at Carter-Lanning Paint Store. He retired from the store after 45 years. He was also a self-taught musician and he played guitar with the Carter Lanning Band for several decades. Vance will be buried with military honors on August 11.
On behalf of a grateful nation and the members of The Greatest Generations Foundation, we salute Mr. Vance for his dedication and loyalty to our nation. Your will never be forgotten.
“Every Day Is Memorial Day.”
Remember Those Who Served
The Greatest Generations Foundation